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'On the run . . . Oamaru athletes (from left) Lewis Gough, Paddy Spillane, Jack Nicol and Molly McClure (all 9) run sprints at Centennial Park in preparation for the Colgate Games. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

Thirteen North Otago athletes will be among more than 1000 youngsters in action at the South Island Colgate Games in Invercargill this weekend.

The annual event is for children aged between 7 and 14 who are affiliated with an athletics club.

They compete in several disciplines, including the 60m, 100m and 200m sprints, 400m, 800m and 1500m distance races, sprint relays, long jump, high jump, shot put, discus, hurdles and a walk race.

North Otago Harrier and Athletic Club president Jeff Spillane said the club was excited about the prospects of its athletes.

“I suppose the good thing is we’ve got kids in the medal grade – which is 10 years and above – whereas previously we’ve generally been in the 7 to 9 grades, which don’t have finals.”

The North Otago contingent will take part in the relay team sprints, 400m, 1500m, long jump, shot put and discus.

Spillane rated Stanley McClure (100m, 200m, long jump and high jump), Matthew Gough (1500m) and the relay teams as being strong medal chances.

It’s always a bit of a challenge for a smaller team to get on the dais, but when we last sent a team two years ago, we got four medals. It’s certainly given them a focus point.”

The team has trained three times a week for about three months for the games, which wrap up on Sunday.

The Colgate Games are held by the New Zealand Children’s Athletic Association.